Today’s interview is with Samantha Winslow, our newest technician in the Collection Services Division. Samantha was with us previously as a contractor and she decided to join our staff when the opportunity arose. We are certainly glad that she did! She brings with her a whole host of library and language experience.
Describe your background.
My mother was an English teacher and a technical editor from a Jewish family in Queens, New York City, and my father was a Vermonter from the Silent Generation, a WWII veteran, and a civil engineer who studied at MIT and Berkeley. My older sister followed in his footsteps in her pursuit of science and attended MIT and GW for microbiology and forensic science. We all love books and reading. My interests gravitate toward art and nature, as well as learning about how people live across the world and across time.
What is your academic/professional history?
After high school I attended St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland and studied classics. I had already studied Latin for five years, and there I studied Ancient Greek for a year. My interests are broad and the world is wide, so I decided to transfer to George Mason University and majored in sociology. I also had the opportunity to study Italian and sociology in Florence, Italy for a semester. In 2006, a high school friend contacted me and asked if I would be interested in working with her on a contract at the Library of Congress, and I jumped at the opportunity. I was hired as an inspector for the Baseline Inventory Project (editor’s note: this, as well as subsequent projects, involve inventorying volumes into the Library’s catalog). I loved working in the Jefferson Building for the architecture and seeing all sorts of unexpected old books from the General Collection. Over the years, BIP became RHIP, Retrospective Holdings Integrity Program, and I helped transfer materials to the new Ft. Meade storage facility. Meanwhile, I took courses online at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York for fashion merchandising management, and held a variety of service and marketing jobs. After a few years away from the Library, I joined another contract on the CAMPI project (a collections processing and maintenance contract) in the Law Library, checking in new acquisitions. Then I worked on the NAP project in the Adams Building, processing books to transfer to Cabin Branch (the Library’s newest high density storage facility.) Now I’ve come back to the Law Library as a federal employee and I am working in the stacks doing collections and catalog maintenance and retrieving and delivering patron requests.
How would you describe your job to other people?
I go on daily scavenger hunts in the sub-basement of the Madison Building to find legal materials for Congressional patrons and the public. Then I help ensure they are safely stored where they can be found again.
Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?
The scope of the collection is amazing. I especially like that I can “walk around the world” and access so many books from so many countries, in so many languages.
What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library?
There are almost 60 miles of shelves in the stacks. Finding a book for a patron can be like searching for a needle in a haystack!
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
I attended beauty school to become certified in nail technology, and have taken yoga teacher training to maintain my health. I love to learn vocabulary from different languages. I’ve studied Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Dutch, German, and French. I don’t speak these languages but I like to be able to decipher them when I see them in books! My guilty pleasure is Korean pop music, particularly girl groups. My co-workers probably already know this, but I feel I should mention that I have four cats and they are great company.